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Hundreds of Little Fountains in Rome

17th Sep 2015

Let’s be honest, who wouldn’t love to turn on the tap and have free flowing wine? Although this seems quite far-fetched and inconceivable, just a few years ago in the Italian township of Marino, south of Rome, wine started flowing through the taps into dozens of homes during an Italian grape festival.

Although at first this was ‘Hailed as a Miracle’ and some sort of sign from God, it turned out be nothing more than a bad plumbing job. However I have to say, if the wine had been flowing into my home regardless of a bad plumbing job, it still would have been a miracle no matter which way you look at it.

The fortunate town folk of Marino, who host the annual grape festival (which is the oldest grape festival in Italy), organise to have the main water supply in the town center switched to supply the fountains in the town square with free flowing sparkling wine. However on this one occasion, bad plumbing meant the wine supply was switched to homes instead.

Turning water into wine was first mentioned in the Gospel of John. When Jesus and his mother Mary were invited to a wedding and the wine ran out during the festivities. Jesus then performed what is attributed as his first miracle, by turning the water into wine.

Now if you were lucky enough to have lived in Rome during the 17th century, you too may have witnessed a similar event. As on at least two occasions, with the elections of Pope Innocenzo X Pamphilj (1644-1655) and Pope Clemente X Altieri (1670-1676), many of the fountains throughout the city poured free flowing wine, instead of water.

In fact 2 very well known drinking fountains ‘Fontana dei Leoni’ the two black basalt Egyptian lions situated at the base of the stairs on Via del Teatro di Marcello which lead up to the Capitoline museums, poured both red wine from one and white wine from the other during this period.

Wine has always played a pivotal role in Ancient Rome and the Romans believed that wine was a daily necessity and was made available to slaves, peasants, woman and aristocrats alike.

The rise of the Roman Empire saw technological advances in wine making which spread to all parts of Europe. Today Rome’s influence has had a profound effect on today’s major winemaking regions and many of the techniques and principles first developed in ancient Roman times, can be found in modern winemaking.

So although the wine no longer flows from the fountains in Rome, you can still enjoy a glass or two when your out and about. In fact I find some of the cheaper house wines at restaurants to be some of the best.

– By David Dodd –